Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– City school shake-up. A high number of principals are walking away from the Baltimore schools.
As Gigi Barnett explains, it’s a turnover rate that started when the current CEO took the helm.
Since taking over city schools four years ago, Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso slashed positions and moved employees. So much so that only 25 percent of principals who were on the job when he arrived are still there.
His response: The job is tough.
“The expectation since I arrived is that kids come first,” Dr. Alonso said. “And we’re going to move fast. And in the process, that wasn’t the way many of them wanted to work.”
Dr. Alonso says there are several reasons why 75 percent of the principals who once headed schools when he arrived are now gone. Some of them were promoted and had to come to the central office. Others retired. And then there were those, Dr. Alonso says, who just weren’t a good fit for the job.
“If you’re not good enough for our kids, then maybe you should work some place else,” he said.
And that’s causing a stir. Especially among civil rights activists like Marvin “Doc” Cheatham. He heads the Baltimore chapter of the National Action Network and he feels that experienced principals won’t be around.
“It’s not as much we’re second-guessing Dr. Alonso,” said Cheatham. “We’re saying that we have to raise concerns. These principals have been there for a while.”
Plus, Cheatham fears that those replacing outgoing principals may not have a strong connection to students or the community.
“They need to understand and appreciate and respect the culture which they are going to be principals over,” he said. “And it takes a while to do that.”
With a little more than two weeks before the new school year, Dr. Alonso says he’s almost finished filling all of the 42 vacant principal positions. This week he hired 15 new principals.
Only about nine vacant principal positions remain. Dr. Alonso says he’ll make a final choice for those by August 23.